Sharing Children After Divorce

Dear Sara,

My husband and I have just divorced. I am angry and don’t want anything to do with him but the judge has given us joint custody of our five year old daughter. He has divided up our child’s week so that she spends half a week with each of us. How can I do this without going crazy? -Sharon

Dear Sharon,

This kind of situation is very difficult for a child. If you could put your anger aside and try to discuss the situation with your ex, maybe you could figure out something that could be a little easier for your daughter.

If this can’t be accomplished then try to make things work so that your little girl has a room in each house that is entirely hers and no one else can change it and make sure her special toys are packed for each visit. The schedule needs to be stable so that she will know what to expect. A calendar that she can keep, with days marked for each house can give her a visual idea of how things work.

Try not to argue in front of her or act hostile. This will make things more difficult for her. She needs both of her parents to love her even if they don’t love each other any more. It’s going to be hard for you to control your anger and be civil to your ex but try really hard for your daughter’s sake.


  1. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I will forward this article to
    him. Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you
    for sharing!

  2. Your child is caught in the cross fire. Be adults. So you hate him? Get over it. Move on. Otherwise you will be stuck forever bitter which will infect the child the TWO of you created. Do not punish your child or guilt her for loving her dad. It has been normal for her and acceptable, even expected for the previous years of her life, and she did not divorce either of you. Do what the Judge ordered. Accept it. And above all, both of you work to ease the hurt that five year old did not ask for. You are divorced. Over. Find healthy ways to heal now.

  3. Dear Sara,

    I am a survivor of the same situation but I had two children. Please keep your opinion and feelings about the whole situation to yourself and do not let your child even over hear you speaking about anything negative concerning the ex. My kids are 23 and 21 now and like your daughter will, they love us both no matter what. Even after a abusive relationship. They forgive but they did not forget everything.
    That was the easy part. Now the hard part; you will have to forgive him! I mean for everything! Say this three times out loud: I am sorry, I thank you, please forgive me and I love you. If you can choke that out over & over everyday, you will take back your power, heal and become stronger every time. You are totally turning things around and if it helps he will feel the shift and become less uncompromising. All things with God’s love in mind. Blessings, Terri

  4. You might want to read a book entitled “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.” Fathers are important for daughters and this book might give you some insight into the importance of the relationship. You might give it to your ex after you finish it. I am sure you both want what is best for your daughter so you must keep that in mind when dealing with your ex, especially when your daughter just might be around. She will see what is going on and determine how she feels about each of you. It will be difficult, but it will benefit you and your daughter in the long run when you are the gracious one when dealing with your ex. Good luck.

  5. Grow up. This isn’t about you.

  6. Tony Marzio says:

    It’s easy to give advice and say move on. A person cannot move on when constantly confronted with that which hurt them badly and continues to be a harassment. If a couple did not get on before the divorce for quite a while, it’s possible one or the other, or both will find it stomach churning to keep dealing with a person they want NOTHING more to deal with.

    For the sake of the child, keeping the peace and allowing them to feel loved by both parents is paramount, but what if the child does not want to be bandied about from one household to the other? Certainly, it might be exciting for a small child IF the parent they are going to showed them loads of love before the divorce. If not, that parent will be something a child will dread going to, and as it grows older, could want to choose where it should stay.

    So mostly, and at a certain age of understanding, it should be the child who chooses which parent it wants to stay with and for how much time. The courts want to control so they will always want to do the ordering which is none of their business, if the parents are intelligent enough to make their own plans according to the wants and needs of the child.
    Just think of the rapist who knows the victim carries his child.. The courts say that person, a criminal, has to have joint custody. Now how do you think that can be dealt with?

    Firstly, the woman should never let the rapist know, if she suffers a pregnancy due to him, if that is possible.
    Secondly, the rapist should be in prison, and denied any access to the child he ‘brutally’ caused to be created, without love.

    As I don’t believe in abortion, what the victim decides in this case, is her business and not mine. But others have no right to force her to share custody with an obviously deranged, sub-standard human.

  7. Hate. Ah that wonderful emotion that destroys you. Let it go before you turn into the evil parent. Don’t like your ex-husband anymore? Obviously but rise up above your emotions and treat him civilly and with courtesy, because kids learn from their parents. Want a spoiled brat for a child then keep the anger and show it. Those are your choices. Only 2… make the right one.

  8. Just wanted to say that I appreciate this issue being brought up…and some of the excellent replies. Though I don’t have kids, I HAVE had friends who have gone through difficult things, post-divorce. For me, I think the “bottom line” is to not be tempted to fall into a lot of DRAMA (and vengeful thoughts and language). Set up some common sense rules, keep to them…and keep things “fact-based” (not emotional) as much as possible. And don’t talk in terms of the “Good Guy” and the “Bad Guy.” while there may be exceptions, generally, the two ex-mates have their own points of view (and agendas), and NO ONE is simply the “BAD GUY!!” Oh, I particularly liked the idea of providing the child with her own room in each home…a good foundation for helping provide at least a modicum of stability during difficult times. And I can definitely speak to this…as I was the product of a broken (and dysfunctional) family…and things got very crazy (made worse by my younger brother getting into “my stuff” (and frequently stealing objects)….with no help with this from my mom and step-dad (absolutely indefensible!!). They wouldn’t even allow me to lock my desk. And, PRIVACY can be very important to a child. Privacy and respect!! (and having your own space that won’t be violated)!!!!!

    Oh, one final thing. As a holistic doc (and psychotherapist)…and just someone who has had his own share of difficult life challenges)…during particularly hard times like this, I cannot emphasize TOO strongly the writer make sure she has a good “support group” to depend on (preferably, including a good therapist), to give you some emotional “hand-holding.” Don’t try to “do it alone!!!!” Hugs and best wishes from L.A.!!! ; )

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